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‘Standing Against Elder Abuse’ is A short video by Reaping Hope to mark the 9th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2014.

Elder abuse is a major problem today, not just because of its severity but also because most of these cases are hidden. A large number of senior citizens face abuse everyday either one way or the other. And most of the abusers are none other than their own family members. The voices of senior citizens are not heard because they are unable to stand up on their own and now it’s time we raise our voices against elder abuse. This is a call to all youths to unite and stand against elder abuse, a request to initiate small steps to minimize abuse happening daily, knowingly or unknowingly. Know that your parents/grandparents and any other senior citizens are an important part of the society and help them live a dignified life in their golden years.

 

Since March last year, around 30 senior citizens have been staging a sit-in protest on the premises of the Department of Transport Management (DoTM), first at Koteshwor and now at defunct trolley bus station in Minbhawan in the Capital, demanding a blanket 50 percent discount for the elderly in public transport. The government, however, has been callous in its response. The Senior Citizens Act 2006 stipulates that every public vehicle reserve two seats for people over the age of 60 and grant them 50 percent concession in fare. Accordingly in April 2011, the Supreme Court issued a mandate to the government to ensure the implementation of the Act. Unfortunately, the provision has been interpreted differently by different readers. The members of the Struggle Committee and managers at Sajha Yatayat believe that two seats should be reserved for the elderly while giving fare discount to all above the age of 60. The government and the rest of the transport committees, on the other hand, believe that both seat reservation and fare discount apply to only two senior citizens. In its working procedure, drafted after the start of the sitin protest, to ensure fare discount for the elderly, the government keeps to its interpretation. “This misinterpretation of the provision has only created a divide among the elderly. When five elderly walk inside a bus and only two are allowed a fare discount, who is to say who pays in full and who pays in half. This is not respect, this is discrimination,” says 65-year-old Maha Prasad Parajuli, chair of the Struggle Committee. The government, however, is unwilling to budge. “We’ve already given 50 percent discount to two senior citizens travelling on a public vehicle. We don’t own public transport to grant concessions to all above the age of 60,” said Mukti Bahadur KC, a director at DoTM. The Struggle Committee vows to continue the sit-in until its demands are met. Their other demands include free medical treatment for the elderly and an increment in the oldage allowance from Rs 500 to Rs 3,000 a month.

Source: The Kathmandu Post, (January 6th, 2014)
Compiled by: Janu Rai

 Proof of citizenship has become key; yet, vulnerable groups are struggling to get their citizenship cards

Political talk in Nepal is ubiquitous at the moment. Whether at home or in tea shops, whether the interlocutors are young or old, no conversation is completed without discussing which party will win the election and what will happen next. Many anticipate that the first priority will be the constitution.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time in an old age home a few minutes from where I live, talking to its founder and the elderly women who reside there. Already thrilled to be talking to the few grandmothers who were vocal and expressive with their views about the elections and the constitution, my interest escalated when the conversation shifted towards the citizenship issue, old age allowance and its links to the constitution. These women hoped that the to-be-written constitution will have clear provisions for elderly people and that the old age allowance will be given to any elderly person without age bias or other similar limitations.

Rs 500 a month

The sad reality is that out of the eight elderly women, only two have been receiving allowances, while the rest expressed their disappointment in not receiving anything despite being eligible. One main reason was that they did not have citizenship. It then occurred to me that they would not have been able to vote. I was previously unaware of this situation.

Here is a little background about the role of citizenship and old age allowance. The universal old age allowance in Nepal is defined as such: applicable to Dalits who are of 60 years and above, and 70 years and above for other social groups. Every eligible elderly citizen is entitled to Rs 500 per month. To be eligible, each person must undergo a registration process, which requires the citizenship card as proof of identity. Without citizenship, one cannot start the process. In fact, one cannot start any process, not even for a voter card.

When I inquired whether anything had been done to begin the process for these elderly women to acquire their citizenship, the lady who runs the home replied that despite trying many times, making frequent trips to respective places and even visiting the close relatives of these elderly, it was all in vain. “One elderly who lives here has been abandoned by her family members. She is old enough to acquire benefits. I made many trips to her place to talk about the citizenship issue and see if they could help with the process, but I failed,” she said.

Deprived of benefits

The other elderly women were brought in directly from the streets or rescued from difficult situations and given shelter at the home. Such scenarios, where it is no one’s fault that they don’t possess citizenship, leave these elderly people deprived of the benefits and rights they are entitled to. I also found out that a few elderly women had died without getting a chance to enjoy the benefits provided by the state, something they lamented till their very last breath. Moreover, they expressed bitterness and helplessness that despite efforts, officials could not modify the laws regarding citizenship requirements.

This brings us to loopholes within the social protection mechanism that the state has for the ageing population and it reminds us of how obscure this mechanism is. Despite previous research highlighting how elderly men and women have to walk for hours in order to obtain the allowance or how they have to face untimely distributions of allowances, I feel the issue of citizenship is a more serious and contentious one. To be recognised as a senior citizen, there is no way around getting a citizenship card. There are senior citizens who have gone on for years without ever having to show any proof of their citizenship. However, times have changed and identification has become key to all rights, and yet, the most vulnerable groups have been left out.

Categorization helps

If identification is as crucial as it seems to be, why are these elderly people not able to receive it and what can be done to help them? The question in the policy debate points again to whether the elderly people need to be categorized based on their individual situations. For example, as those living with family members, who are supported in every step of their lives; those living alone without the support of family members; those abandoned and living on the streets or in old age homes; and those living with disabilities. Furthermore, such categories can help identify the most vulnerable people so that support can be provided. Moreover, it is also important to understand the role of citizenship in the lives of these elders. That these elderly women were not able to vote in the election as they did not have citizenship is a huge concern, as they are certainly entitled to the right to vote.

For elderly people living in old age homes, the people running the home are like their family. Hence, instead of having to locate a family member or a place where they originally came from as criteria to obtain citizenship, I believe that the state should be able to provide them with citizenship under the name of their foster caretaker. Such a provision can be abused if not handled well, due to duplication and other forms of fraud, but an alternative solution to the one where a family member has to be located needs to exist. If not, with the increasing ageing population, a majority will suffer and be deprived of their rights to social security benefits.

One elderly woman from the home who receives the allowance stated, “I want the constitution to be written and I wish that my friends who are not getting the allowance will get it under the new government.” The voice of senior citizens calls for the writing of the constitution and their hopes are pinned on a new and committed government. The debate between owning a citizenship card as proof of identity as opposed to calling oneself a citizen of a certain country without having a form of evidence is food for thought.

With Nepal’s ageing population on the rise, elderly people form a crucial segment of our communities. Now is a golden opportunity for elected politicians to prove that they have given thought to these sensitive issues and demonstrate that they can solve this problem.

KC is a researcher for Livelihoods, Basic Services and Social Protection at the Nepal Centre for Contemporary

 Research: SONY KC

Source: The Kathmandu Post, (November 22, 2013)

 

The Elderly and Differently-abled ward in Bir Hospital, Kathmandu.

The Elderly and Differently-abled ward in Bir Hospital, Kathmandu.

The free health services meant to provide to the senior and differently-able citizens initiated on Baishakh this year by Bir Hospital did not even last for a month. The early monsoon destroyed the ward and has not been used till date. Instead of providing service, we can see a notice board that says “the service has been closed for repair and renovation for the time being.”

The elderly and the differently-able citizens are forced to climb the flight of stairs to the four-storey building of the hospital due to this. It is unclear as to when the services will start again. The medical pharmacies around the vicinity have started throwing garbage in front of the ward due to the service delay.

Everyday around 30 elderly along with differently-able patients come to get health services. Kathmandu municipality has still not yet made any efforts to renovate the ward that was made conjoined with the emergency department of the hospital and hence the health services could not be reinitiated. Director of the hospital, Dr. Bulanda Thapa said, “due to its poor foundation and make, the ward did not survive even a month. Our request for repair has not been heard as of yet.” According to him, no human lives were lost at the time of the havoc.

The ward along with the hospital’s main gate was providing free medical services to the elderly and differently-able patients and the latter were benefited due to this. According to Director Thapa, 30 such patients used to visit every day for medical attention on an average.

Before this, it was quite difficult for them to stand in line for hours for tickets as well as to climb the stairs. These problems were solved as soon as the ward started its services; however, it is the same scenario as before said Dr. Dhrubaprasad Singh of the emergency department.

Laxman Aryal, municipal chief said the process for renovation has been started right after Bir Hospital sent a proposal letter for the same. According to him, the renovation work is going on and that very soon, the services will start again. “Due to fiscal year and some changes in-between, there were some delay,” said he, “but we will in no time handover the ward to the hospital as we are rapidly working on it.”

The ward started its free medical services with the start of the New Year, which included all the medical services and treatment along with free medicines. Because of a large number of patients in the hospital from all over the nation, the service was started its separate free treatment service with an aim to provide effective and convenient services to the elderly said Director, Dr. Thapa. Elderly citizens above 70 years of age can only be facilitated with the service.

Senior citizens coming for free services should submit their identity card along with citizenship and elderly allowance document. The services include free x-ray along with blood and other laboratory tests. The medicines will be provided free of cost by Christina Dispensary (free medicines provided by the government of Germany) after the referral by the physicians involved informed Director Thapa.

Source: Nagarik Daily, August 28th, 2013.
Translated by : Janu Rai

Taplejung, August 21.

Only 10 percent of the differently- abled people in the district are availing of the facilities provided by the state. Out of the some one thousand differently-abled people in the district, only 100 are said to be getting the allowance provided by the state, said Nima Sherpa, President of the Disabled Uplift Society, Taplejung.

Sherpa said 25 people are getting the allowance provided to people who are fully disabled while 75 are getting the allowances provided to the partially disabled. He said many people with the disabilities in the district were not getting the allowances as a certain quota of allowances was fixed for the district which was not enough.

He said 982 people with the disabilities are registered with the society in the district. Of them 426 are women. The highest number of disabled people is in phungling VDC, the district headquarters, with 71 disabled people.

Source: The Rising Nepal-August 21st, 2013

Translated by: Suman Thapa

In Nepal, although the ageing population is increasing rapidly, the awareness on the issue among the public has not been able to catch up. People are still unaware of the speed of population ageing, its effects, and challenges surrounding it. Unlike developed countries, a majority of the population still lives in rural areas without access to most of the information, and the population with access to such information does not seem to show interest in it as the nation has other important issues to deal with. A major problem for senior citizens in a developing country like Nepal is Negligence. There are no strong rules or acts against everyday domestic elder abuse, rights of senior citizen or any strong development efforts for ever increasing older population.

With this in mind, Reaping Hope aims to spread the information and raise awareness about the speed of population ageing, elder abuse, neglect and violence against older persons, and more generally, about the experience of being old in our changing world.

Please circulate this video to your circle!!!!

 

BHAKTAPUR, March 31: Police on Sunday baton-charged the elderly citizens who have been staging a sit-in at the gate of Transport Management Department for three weeks.

The elderly citizens were in protest with a demand of the implementation of a Supreme Court verdict that the elderly citizens should be provided fifty percent discount on public transport fare. The verdict came two years ago.

Coordinator of the Elderly Citizens Rights Struggle Committee, Maha Prasad Parajuli, said the police also kicked the elderly with boots.
In the incident Sarala Panthi, Goma Parajuli, Nanu Kandel, Sita Shrestha, Nayandra Khada and Birendra Pokhrel were injured. All of them are over 60 years.

Coordinator Parajuli further said if the police continue suppression, the elderly citizens would commit self-immolation at the gate of the Transport Management Department.

Meanwhile, the elderly citizens from Morang district picketed the office of the Biratnagar Municipality, reasoning they were not provided allowance for long time.

Some 500 elderly citizens led by Binod Sharma also organized a rally before picketing the Municipality Office. The rally passed through the local Janapath Tole, Mahendra Chowk, and Jaljalamod. In the rally, they chanted slogans demanding the corruption control and increase of the allowance to elderly citizens. Finally, Officer at the Municipality Office, Binod Koirala assured that they would be provided the allowance within a week.

Source: MyRepublica Published on 2013-03-31 19:37:15

KATHMANDU: An unidentified gang rendered Manakala Paudel (65) of Kalanki unconscious by offering her soft drinks laced with sedatives and robbed her of two tola-gold ornaments at Shova Bhagwati on Thursday. Police rescued the woman and took her to Bir Hospital.

Source: Himalayan News Service, February 23, 2013

SINDHUPALCHWOK: A gang of robbers looted gold ornaments and killed an elderly couple in Sindhupalchowk’s Bhaldung village on Tuesday night. The murdered couple has been identified as Bhakta Bahadur Pradhan, 60, and his wife Man Kumari, 55. Police said that the gang had also robbed the house of the elderly couple. Inspector Barhabise Bishnu Lamichhane said the couple’s bodies were found in the courtyard of the house.

The couple’s 12-year-old son, Prem Bahadur said, “After seeing my parents dead, I jumped out of the house through the window to inform the neighbours, but by the time the neigbours came to the incident spot robbers had already fled.” Robbers looted gold ornaments that were worn by Bhakta Kumari.

According to Prem, two unidentified persons had come to the house the same afternoon and had taken a meal. Police surmised that the same persons might have killed the couple after seeing their property, taking advantage of the fact that their house was the only one in that settlement. The exact worth of the stolen valuables is not known yet.

Source: Himalayan News Service, January 31, 2013

Kaushila Maya Tamang, 64, of Bharapa, Panchthar was brutally killed for five anna gold on Saturday night by her daughter-in-law’s brother, Prakash Tamang of Chhatedhunga, Terhathum, said police. Prakash attacked her with a sharp weapon when she was asleep at night to take away the gold ornaments. Kaushila, who was living alone, was found dead on Sunday morning. Meanwhile, the Prakash confessed to the crime, said Inspector Gopal Dhakal.

Source: Himalayan News Service, January 14, 2013

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